Her daughter, actress Ashley Judd, was greeted with a standing ovation as the tribute began.
“Thank you for being with us and for your fellowship with us,” the young Judd said. “Because we can pretend to care, but we can’t pretend to show up. So thank you for showing up for our moms.”
She explained that her mother wanted the public memorial service to be held in Lyman, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, which she called “Mother’s Church.”
Judd also provided an obituary about her mother before introducing her sister, Wynonna, who emotionally sang “The River of Time,” a song written by their mother.
“I held back the tears/Just thinking about those happy years,” Wynonna Judd sings. “Like all the good times that are no more. My love is gone, gone, gone forever.”
The event was hosted by Judd’s family friend and “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts.
“She loves with all her heart and I know tonight she will be touched by the love in all of us, especially her daughter,” Roberts said of Judd.
Wynonna and Naomi Judd form the Grammy-winning duo The Judds, and many of their hits have been performed by current artists, including Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, EmmyLou Harris, Allison Russell and Brad Paisley.
Members of the Gaither Vocal Band also performed a gospel song in tribute to Judd’s love of spiritual music.
Rock star Bono appeared in a video in which he recites the lyrics to Judd’s song “Guardian Angel.” Other stars also commented via the video, including Oprah Winfrey, Salma Hayek, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman and Betty Midler.
Judd’s husband, Larry Strickland, explained to those gathered that his wife had never met strangers and loved talking to everyone she met.
He read an email from a man who met his wife on a plane and shared how Judd expressed her love for her husband and their life together.
“Needless to say, it brought me great joy and comfort,” Strickland said emotionally.
Wynonna Judd made the audience laugh by making fun of her sometimes turbulent relationship with her mother.
“We’re showing the world what a dysfunctional family does,” she said, looking at her sister and Strickland. “You show each other.”
She returned to the stage to perform “Rose” with Brandy Carlisle.
Judd announced that, in honor of her mother, she plans to continue the tour they were supposed to do together. She then ended the show with the uplifting “Love Can Build a Bridge.”